Monday, August 10, 2009

The Trials & Tribulations of a Carp Addict.

Over the course of this summer I have developed what I can only describe as a "carp addiction". Everyday all I thought about was the next time I would go carp fishing with a fly rod in an attempt to fool, hook, and land a bigger and stronger carp than the previous trip. There was one point when all I would tie and focus on was trout. Those flies picked up dust... and I began to tie contraption upon contraption in an attempt to fool that next elusive carp. I sought out new carp water and discovered the holy grail. An expansive lake teeming with large carp who presented enough of a challenge to skunk you one day but every once in awhile give you that day where everything comes together and the reels would sing. This new water only fueled my passion for even more carp action. I sought out greater challenges and I eventually found the greatest challenge of all.

The canal along a local river presented me with some graduate school carp action. It holds some giant carp that would produce goose gumps and shaky knees whenever they would turn to look at a presentation. Those moments came a long once every few trips while in between I experienced some of the most frustrating and difficult angling I have ever faced. Carp are known as the smartest freshwater game fish and rightfully so. Their smell is said to be near a hundred  times as powerful as that of our four legged friends and they have three different ways of  hearing and sensing our every move, including one that is entirely unique to carp. When one senses danger, they release of pheromone that lets every carp in the vicinity know that someone or something is near and a threat. That means that before I even see that carp I am targeting on a silly little fly rod, they know I am there, they can probably smell me, and they are telling all their brothers and sisters that this young gun on the bank is trying to fool me with this weird contraption that resembles something I may or may not have eaten before. 

The canal is a heavily trafficked area. Once that first runner or bike comes trudging down the canal path at 5:30 a.m. the carp who came out to feed overnight take flight back to cover. All before anyone even knows they were there. From that moment on, until almost the cover of darkness they experience pressure from spinning anglers, guys with bow and arrows, swimming dogs, ducks, geese, thrown rocks, trains, cars, and until recently the estranged fly fishermen. 

So once you decide that you need to catch a canal carp, you need to find a time period when they haven't been pressured by any of the above. You have to spot them in a deep canal bed that is extremely murky, and you have to find them while they are feeding or else you stand zero chance. Putting all these factors together, your chance of successfully finding an ideal situation where you even have a shot is miniscule. Once you find that shot, you then have to (as the new Drake Mag gloriously describes) go into Kung Fu mode and sneak into the ideal spot without somehow giving away your position. You then have to produce a cast amidst poison ivy, thorns, overhanging trees, and goose shit. All with the hope that the carp is is the deaf kind that can't sense your fly line, leader, and fly hit the water. The carp then must decide that your fly is edible and take it in full. Once he takes it, you must be quick because he knows that shit he just consumed is not real and will spit it out in under a second. You have to have a fast trigger hand. On top of all this ridiculousness, thousands upon thousands of mosquitos are ripping you apart seemingly immune to 100% deet. 

This summer I had one goal in mind; to fool one of these carp. I had my shot at canal carp glory. The stars all aligned after hours upon hours of failures. The 20 pounder was feeding at dusk and amidst a thick gloom, I made the cast. It was perfect. He took my fly and in that split second I messed up. 3x was a big mistake. He took off like a bat out of hell and took all his buddies with him in a violent symphony of thrashing water. My lone shot of the entire summer was gone with my only condolence being the mosquito boaring into my forehead and the mere fact that the "Hoss" had just tasted steel.


Matt said...


Anonymous said...

I keep going after them despite the rejection. They are smart mofos for sure.

Troutdawg said...

Keep at it they are one tricky fish indeed! I love em, I just can't get enough